Here are the five most compelling DODDS-Europe football games of the coming weekend:
Vicenza at Aviano: A matchup between these two Italian neighbors is always an event on any surface of play, but this one is of particular interest. Vicenza is coming off a playoff appearance, Aviano an encouraging opening-weekend rout of ISB. One of these confident teams will be reflecting on a loss come Sunday.
Naples at Ansbach: The Cougars developed into a heavy favorite to at least reach last year’s championship game, and their failure to do so might make them even tougher this year. They certainly looked that way in blasting AFNORTH in week one.
Patch at Kaiserslautern: The host Raiders will spend the first two weeks of their regular season under their beloved home-field Friday-night lights, an experience few other DODDS-Europe teams can offer. Next week’s visit from defending champ Wiesbaden is the flashier of the two games, but the playoff-tested Panthers are no pushover.
Menwith Hill/Woodham at SHAPE: Despite the Spartans’ depleted state, a win over a signature Division II program would be a fine way for DODDS-Europe’s newest entry to debut. It will be interesting to see just what the amalgamation of tiny Menwith Hill and the increasingly solid Woodham program has wrought.
Rota at Baumholder: The Bucs were impressive in a season-opening loss to Bitburg last weekend, and the undermanned team will now look to even its season record against a more comparable opponent. But the disciplined and experience Admirals might offer more resistance than expected.
Hohenfels at Alconbury; Wiesbaden at Lakenheath: Both DODDS-Europe defending champions debut as heavy favorites against non-playoff teams. But the long trips across the Channel, new coaches for both the Dragons and Lancers, and the pressures of defending a title are all factors that might swing these projected routs.